We live in a world of data on-demand. Online vendors know our preferences thanks to our shopping history and our smartphones can tell us where we are most likely heading when we step into our cars. Ordering takeout takes a few swipes of our fingers.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, we are also now navigating through a newly transformed world where technology is playing an even more vital role in connecting us to businesses, co-workers, clients, family members and friends.
One example of this is virtual annual meetings. Following the SEC’s recent guidance on holding digital shareholder meetings during the pandemic, hundreds of issuers are flocking to this format. Digital shareholder meeting solutions are also making it possible for issuers to offer more convenient ways for shareholders to vote online on important decisions like new board members and corporate leadership.
But how does an ambitious and forward-thinking insurance firm, mutual fund or real estate investment trust choose the right proxy solution?
As Rich Babineau, director of Fund Solutions at Mediant, writes in his new ebook entitled 10 Areas to Consider When Choosing a Proxy Provider for Mutual Funds, Insurers and Alternative Investments, “proxy voting is one of the most powerful ways shareholders can influence a company’s operations and corporate governance. However, it’s far from a simple and straightforward process.”
Mutual funds, insurers and REITs eager to reach out to shareholders must consider regulatory compliance, the demographics of their shareholders and how they prefer to cast their vote. Furthermore, they must demand the additional values that a proxy solutions provider can deliver.
One value-add is data. Every interaction with a shareholder is an opportunity to gather valuable information for the next proxy vote and other decisions that could have a profound impact on the company and the industry in the future. Mutual funds, insurance companies and alternative investments can create a proxy plan by examining shareholder behavior, past performance—by segment and market environment—and other factors. A proxy solutions provider “should know when to call shareholders, what time of day, did they answer, how long did it take for a conversion,” according to Babineau.
This is why avoiding a cookie-cutter approach when selecting the right proxy voting solutions provider is critical.
“When a provider looks at a proxy event, it shouldn’t look at it from the point-of-view of, ‘I have to manage and execute this through the existing processes.’ It should have extremely well-thought-out processes and controls to bring a campaign from start to finish. It should look at this in a more entrepreneurial or agile way to identify opportunities to help distribute proxies more efficiently and use customization to help clients achieve better results,” explains Babineau.
But if a fund goes to a provider that is nimble and willing to do something different, the response will be, “Yes, we can do it, and we are going to build for this because our systems are completely agile and flexible to accomplish this.”
Download Rich Babineau’s ebook 10 Areas to Consider When Choosing a Proxy Provider for Mutual Funds, Insurers and Alternative Investments here.
After reading the ebook, feel free to contact us with any questions or for additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org.